The Florida Panthers are in a strange spot with the NHL Trade Deadline fast approaching. Few have considered the team to be a playoff contender at any point this season, but quietly Florida has climbed into tenth in the Eastern Conference in points percentage and only trail the Carolina Hurricanes by seven points with four games in hand. However, their playoff odds may not have much of to do with their deadline strategy anyway. The Panthers have just one impending unrestricted free agent on the NHL roster and, based off his performance thus far in 2017-18, his presence won’t make much of a difference down the stretch or in the postseason.
That player is Radim Vrbata who, despite having over 600 points in more than 1000 NHL games, has been a complete failure in Florida this season after signing with the Cats this past summer. We recently took a closer look at Vrbata and came to the easy conclusion that if any suitors made an offer for Vrbata, the Panthers would be likely to accept, regardless of their current playoff predicament. A potential deal came another step closer today, with Vrbata submitting a list of ten teams that he would accept a trade to in the next week and a half. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun was the first to report that Vrbata had made his decision, after the Panthers requested the list back in January.
LeBrun also notes though that Vrbata’s poor production and lack of play time this season – 13 points in 36 games – may limit the number of teams interested in his services. Vrbata has often run into trouble finding good chemistry fits with certain teams over his career, leading many to believe that he can only perform in Arizona. The Coyotes are certainly not looking to buy at the deadline, though that’s not to say that Vrbata didn’t put them on his list. However, as for the other nine or ten possible destinations, it’s always possible that a team can take a chance, especially when it comes to a well-respected veteran with a low price tag.